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Kodak Announces the End of Its Much-Loved BW400CN C-41 Black & White Film

Kodak-BW400CN

Kodak recently issued an official statement confirming the discontinuation of yet another film stock: the much-loved, fine grain, chromogenic black & white film BW400CN.

Truth be told, as Kodak continues to cull its film stocks in order to stay on top in profitable in a declining analogue market, BW400CN’s days were always numbered, although that doesn’t make the news any less sad.

Though not nearly as historic or versatile as Tri-X, its prominence was still strong due to its fine grain structure that was supposedly the best among chromogenic (C-41 process) black & white films.

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Kodak does say that the film will still be around for another six months or so, as its latest production runs makes its way to shelves and into consumers’ hands, but once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

And considering it’s one of the more easily accessible film stocks, even available at some pharmacies and supermarkets, there’s a good chance its end may come sooner than expected.

If you’d like to secure some BW400CN film before it’s too late, the film is still in stock at B&H.


Image credits: BW400CN by Jun Takeuchi used under Creative Commons


 
  • Future is Now

    Apparently it wasn’t “loved” quite enough. Tick tick tick… The era of coated plastic photography is …. just … about … over.

  • OtterMatt

    Dayum. If I had any sort of money, I’d buy up a stockpile quick.

  • GPH Visual Artist

    It’s more of a grey and white film than black and white. I’ve never seen a rich black on anything shot with that film.

  • Kyle Sanders

    Have you tried printing from it? I found it to be nothing short of frustrating compared to TX or HP5.

  • Ryan Good

    Um, Ilford XP2 my friends… far better C-41 B/W, and not going anywhere. As long as Kodak can keep rocking out that great Portra we’re good! Leave Ilford to the B/W. Fuji 3000b, although apples to oranges, is something I can’t get over

  • lexplex

    Ooooh I’ve got a box of it in the fridge, luckily. Will shoot a roll this weekend in memoriam.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Guys, digital is awesome too. Let it go…

  • worker88

    It wasn’t really for printing. Well it prints great if the printer was calibrated everyday. Most labs didn’t/don’t do this. I just got the negs scanned because I got tired of getting cyan prints.

  • Kyle Sanders

    I never tried in a lab, I meant on a darkroom enlarger onto proper photo paper.

    In my humble opinion, C41 negatives seem to scan better than B&W ones (you can use ICE for starters!) but B&W negatives print much better – that is sharper and with more definition.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com/ Stan B.

    Yup, absolute crap on paper.

  • Christopher Hugh Hiscocks

    Here we go. Take your own advice…

  • palmbook

    BW400CN is not intended for wet print. Because of its orange mask, it will produce too high contrast. It is intended to be scanned.

    If you want C41 negs that play well with darkroom, you go with Ilford XP-2. I have printed several times from this film, and the results were ok. I would say that real bw negs are superior, but XP2 was not too bad either.

  • Kyle Sanders

    I shot C41 B&W when I first got back into shooting film, and was relying on labs to do all my developing. Several years and shooting/developing hundreds of feet of proper silver film later, I would not want to shoot C41 B&W again, but that is my preference. I regret the dwindling of choices, even if I would never choose it.

  • palmbook

    I perfectly understand your feeling, because I also shoot silver films with 4×5 camera. I pick up C41 negs simply for convenience (in scanning).

    Personally, I prefer BW400CN over XP2. A little sad to see it go.

  • faloc

    yep, let it go… make your life easier :P could always a get a Leica M Monochrom :D

  • http://www.kurtlanger.com/ Kurt Langer

    I use to love it.

  • Mike

    The corpse isn’t even cold yet and you tell us to let it go? Let us mourn in peace.

  • J. Guevara

    For those of us that still want Portra to stay around we need to help Kodak Alaris to promote its great Portra and Ektar film emulations rather than passively sit around, blame their supply chain inefficiencies on the parent Eastman Kodak, and place their future hopes on document scanners. Look how Lomography, Impossible Project, Cinestill, and Revolog engage their customers, build on the unique look and experience of film (with less post processing) and continue to grow their market, whereas Kodak Alaris and Eastman Kodak emit their elegies without passionately singing the praises of their great film. For example, their social media marketing mixes retail kiosk and DIY craft projects, which are just not hip, with occasional rebroadcasting of some Portra shots–mixed messaging with little engagement. Where is the engagement, where is the love for film, where is the business savvy to turn to the niche market and grow it (like Lomography) rather than sticking to the mentality of consumer kiosks and pushing the already thick document scanner market? In the last year the new Kodak Alaris CEO compared film to vinyl records. Too true, but that analog analogy should be embraced. If Kodak Alaris could break from its organizational funk and specialize in its unique niche market, watch film sales grow. If it can’t nurture the niche, then it will specialize in these announcements and apologias.

  • Christian Tviberg

    Digital is awesome, but it is not film. It is no fun. I am lucky, i can choose between hasselblad H4d, d3x or s, markii but i usually pick my pentax spotmatic. Digital is photography with crutches. It is a computer with a light sensor. It Beats film in all categories, but does not have a soul. Trolling a funeral
    Is insensitive.

  • Kay Opunui

    To be brutally honest. I tried a few rolls of BW400 back when in the mid noughties. The prints were deplorable, and I never touched it again.

  • Buelteman

    Digital is great if you simply don’t have enough hours in front of your computer and want more! Ah . . . push-button prints – the mediocrity flows!

  • 7765

    What a bunch misinformation here: 1) there is no orange mask, 2) it prints great (if you know how to print), 3) as sharp as tri-x but not as gritty because you don’t have the grain, 4) scans wonderfully, although i prefer delta 100 for better “pop”… I used hundreds of rolls of this film both 35mm and 21/4… It was as good as or better than 4×5 when shot as 6×6 or 7×6 or 6×9. I miss film but just don’t want to mess with it anymore now that digital is up over 30 to 60 million pixels and can really do most anything my clients will pay for.